International Peace Day from the Southern Philippines

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Goldin Global Fellow

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in Southern Philippines has been in existence for two and a half years. After decades of negotiations and talks, this is seen as a success of the peace process. Moral governance. This is the primary motivation for the BARMM's pursuit of genuine self-rule and sustainable peace. It highlights the relevance to humanity of the moral virtues of Islam on governance and its appropriateness for the region's history and culture. The teachings of Islam permeate at both the personal and the governance level. At the individual level the common good is concerned with public welfare and the public interest. At the governance level, this refers to equality and the capacity to bring about positive social change.

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The Bangsamoro government and people are undergoing a period of transition which is set to conclude in 2022. However, there is a call from present BARMM leaders and other sectors to delay the first election because the three-year transition period is insufficient to fulfill the numerous tasks necessary to promote regional peace and growth. The BARMM's ability to implement its actions have been further impacted by COVID-19. A positive response from diverse sectors across the country to a proposal by BARMM officials to postpone the region's first elections until 2025, effectively extending the region's transition phase by three years, suggests that many people want the BARMM to succeed.

The potential extension would allow the planned actions in the peace process to be implemented, which is crucial for the region's sustained peace and development.

On the status of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants who have laid down their weapons, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is implementing the normalization track's confidence-building component which includes providing socioeconomic packages and other forms of assistance, with the purpose of promoting the country's peace process, notably in the Bangsamoro. Additionally, the Bangsamoro government has made significant progress toward ensuring a successful and functioning autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao which includes setting up various bodies to oversee the government’s mandate and that of the peace process.

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In celebration of International Day of Peace, the Bangsamoro peace process being led by a majority-Muslim region in the southern Philippines exemplifies actual peace in action. However, the parties are having difficulty advancing toward the roadmap's objectives. Critical security measures envisioned by the peace agreement are still in their inception. A loss of momentum could also jeopardize the existing state of relative peace between the majority Moro Muslims and other ethnoreligious groups

The Philippine government should expedite its promised socioeconomic assistance to deactivated former combatants. The government should also coordinate security concerns with the MILF-led provisional Bangsamoro administration. International donors should make contributions to the new Normalization Trust Fund mechanism. With this, the parties may show their renewed commitment to Bangsamoro normalization while also helping to keep the vital process on track.

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